This is true championship golf!
The Championship course at Carnoustie is very tough, but fair. This is a championship course and don’t expect a relaxing scenic course – you’ll need to fight for every yard and put the ball in position to avoid the deep well positioned bunkers. It will test every club in your bag, test your patience and also test every part of your mental game.
Expect frustration on the long par 4’s, expect frustration when you just hit 170 yards with a good drive right in to the wind, expect a few moments of joy when a rare par happens, expect to hit sideways out of the bunker, expect to make 3 putts on fast greens and expect to be exhausted when you finish the 18th hole.
Should I put myself through all this?? ABSOLUTELY. This is links championship golf at it’s best and something that is a pleasure – even though it may sound more like punishment.
This is most likely the toughest Open course and must be experienced. I did experience it with Michael from Germany and Robert from the USA. Two nice guys and we had and enjoyable game. I believe we all felt the frustration with the +3-4 club wind -“swing easy when it’s breezy” is the rule again.
The tee’s for the day was the green and it’s only 6427 yards par 70! Yellow is 6695 yards and par 70 and the white are 6945 and par 72.
The design of the Championship course is fantastic and very testing. It’s very flat and you’ll not see the ocean on one single hole, but it’s made for championship golf. You’ll play most of the front nine against the wind and the back with the wind.
My favorite holes are:
Hole 6 – 485 yards par 5 – Hogan’s Alley
This is the signature hole. You’ll have out of bounds on the entire left hand side. Two deep bunkers in the middle of the fairway and 160 yards off the green tee and another 2 fairway bunkers about 210 yards off tee to the right. Be brave and hit between out of bounds and the deep first bunkers. You’ll then have a ditch crossing the fairway from the right up to about 70 yards from the green. A green that has 5 bunkers protecting it. Great Hole. I made a bogey par after a terrible drive about 150 yards off tee.
Hole 14 – 449 yards par 4
A long dogleg left hole. Too much to the left off tee and you’ll find 3 bunkers 190 to 230 yards out. You’ll also have a small bunker to the right about 220 yards out. The approach shot can be horrifying – you need to carry the two huge “Spectacles bunkers” and then to avoid the two front greenside pothole bunkers. This a true challenge. 240 yards drive and then in to the “Spectacles” bunker. Managed to get out and a pitch and one put for a bogey 5 – I’m happy!
Hole 16 – 223 yards par 3 (only 249 yards from championship tee)
Described as the toughest par 3 in golf by Tom Watson. Take everything you have and be straight – 5 deep bunkers are protecting the green at the front. Fairway wood, chip and a put for a par!!
Hole 17 – 408 yards par 4
The Barry burn loops around the fairway forming an island, which must be found from tee. Long hitters may attempt to carry both loops, but make sure you have at least a 250 yards carry!! No easy approach shot either, since you need to carry the green and avoid the 4 bunkers at the front of the green. I found the water off tee, good recovery shot, a pitch and two putts for a double bogey 6.
Hole 18 – 411 yards par 4
Barry burn is looping twice across this hole and you’ll also have the “Johnny Miller’s Bunker” on the right hand side 240 yards off tee. Make sure you’ll find fairway off tee and decide if you dare to go for green in two. Jean Van de Velde did it in the Open 1999, found the burn just in front of the green and lost the title. A 6 would have been enough to win the claret jug. A wild drive, way to the right of the fairway bunkers, daring approach shot reached a green bunker, out of the bunker and a two out for a bogey 5. Starting to get good at recovery shots!
Totally exhausted after the finishing 18th hole, but also happy after the tremendous experience. It’s hard work at Carnoustie, but so much fun. My score came about after a number of very good recovery shots. 41 on the front nine and 40 on the back for a total of 81 (gross). I may not really deserve this score, but as a wise man once told me “it’s not how, it’s how many”.
Michael & Robert, Thanks for a great day.
Carnoustie Golf Links - Championship course